Mercedes-Benz ‘playing key role in logistics of funeral’ For Nelson Mandela

December 10, 2013
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MERCEDES-BENZ, whose East London workers assembled an S-Class for Nelson Mandela soon after his release from prison, is also playing a key role in the logistics of the former president’s funeral, sources say.

An industry insider said the luxury car manufacturer would provide logistical support for the funeral — including for his family.

This would see the continuation of a long history between Mercedes-Benz and the Mandela family. After Mandela’s release from prison more than two decades ago, workers at the company’s factory in East London built a red S-Class by hand outside of normal working hours, using parts donated by the company.

Company spokeswoman Lynette Skriker said on Monday Mercedes-Benz SA “can confirm that we have received various requests for assistance with the transport arrangements for former president Nelson Mandela’s funeral”.

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She declined to elaborate, saying: “Please understand that we are not able to disclose any further details about the requests at this time.”

Other corporations have also gone beyond sending their condolences following the death on Thursday week of Mandela — whose foundations have over the years benefited from donations from numerous local companies.

Some companies — from banks to mines to retailers — have taken to honouring the former president by closing shop to allow employees to spend time with their families as the country mourns.

Following an announcement by the Banking Association of SA that all banks would close their head offices, branches and other premises on the day of the funeral, retail group Massmart said on Monday it too would close its stores on Sunday.

“This decision, which we have taken in consultation with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, will enable our staff to spend time with their families on the day of Madiba’s funeral and honour a great statesman in ensuring that his legacy continues,” the subsidiary of US retail giant Walmart said.

The brands affected include Builders Warehouse, Builders Express, Builders Trade Depot, Builders Superstore, CBW, Cambridge Food, Dion-Wired, Game Stores, Jumbo Cash & Carry, Makro, Rhino Cash & Carry.

A Shoprite spokesman said the grocer would also close on the day of the funeral.

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